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  Mens Sana Monographs
A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 150-155
Mind: Explore the Space Inside

Parivartan: The Turning Point, B2, Indrayani Complex, Ground Floor, JK Sawant Road, Dadar [W], Mumbai - 400 028, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission17-Dec-2014
Date of Decision27-Feb-2015
Date of Acceptance27-Feb-2015
Date of Web Publication16-Mar-2015

Correspondence Address:
Rajendra Barve
Parivartan: The Turning Point, B2, Indrayani Complex, Ground Floor, JK Sawant Road, Dadar [W], Mumbai - 400 028, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1229.153328

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When caught in the dilemma of career choice, a critical conversation helped the writer crystallize the decision to plunge into the field of mental health. The decision just not only kindled interest in psychiatry but passion to study the science of the mind despite the fact that in earlier times psychiatry mainly catered to patients with chronic schizophrenia and uncontrolled bipolar disorder. Weathering the curious glances of colleagues the writer pursued to explore the field of the science of the mind. Not restricting himself to classical trends in private practice, he explored every opportunity to reach out to the common man through writing articles in popular newspapers and also ran a TV Show to respond to people's queries on mental health. He further ventured into training and development of young MBA aspirants and trained himself into an international coach and facilitator. The science of Behavioural Economics beckons him now.

Keywords: Behavioural economics; Emotional intelligence to engineers; Explore; General hospital psychiatry; Human resource development; Mentoring; Self-actualise; Stigma

Peer reviewer for this paper: Anon

   Introduction Top

It was the proverbial moment of truth of my life. Caught in the Shakespearean dilemma of 'to be or not to be!' becoming a psychiatrist was resolved on a momentous occasion. I had always wanted to work in the field of mental health but never had the courage to own up to my inclination. It must have taken <30 min to crystallize a decision and resolve the dilemma.

We were walking in one of the long corridors of the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Hospital, Sion, Mumbai, when Dr K. P. Dave, my teacher and mentor, suddenly stopped and asked me point blank, 'Tell me, Rajendra, don't you think you are enjoying work as a psychiatry resident more than as a resident in Internal Medicine? Isn't it that you have a rather strong desire to be a psychiatrist? Why don't you accept this simple truth of life? I think, you are curious about life and want to explore yourself as a person and human being.'

I was stunned by the simplicity of the words. It was like a thunderbolt. I looked away and couldn't say much.

There was a beautiful tree around. The wind was gentle and the leaves were rustling softly in the air. A few withered leaves fell on the ground, and I made the decision.

I was pursuing the discipline of internal medicine, a much-coveted postgraduation and waited for a registrar's post. The psychiatry residency was a stopgap arrangement, the so-called allied post. It was in those 6 months as a psychiatry resident that I found myself, or rather owned myself.

Once the decision to move from Internal Medicine to Psychiatry was finalised, it became clear that some 2 years of (precious time) as a registered student and resident of Internal Medicine had to be sacrificed. But dear friends and colleagues, I have never regretted that decision. I never knew when my profession turned into a passion.

   Working in General Hospital Psychiatry Top

But it was not a cake walk. Working in the department of psychiatry in a general hospital was a chaotic experience. It was like Alice in Wonderland!

There were schizophrenics of all varieties and chronicity in every nook and corner of the wards. I recollect some catatonics used to take refuge under the beds too. There were, of course, some experts in conversion and dissociation reactions with all kinds of gains, be they primary or secondary. A few anxious and depressed added blue hues to the dark wards. This provided ample opportunity to learn and experiment. Then there were just a few psychotropics and the main challenge in the OPD was to write 'ct all' as briskly as possible.

Surprisingly all the patients seemed to survive and carry on not because of the treatment but in spite of it. This was a new moment of truth. I passed MD and DPM with guidance of my teachers and fellow residents.

   Private Practice and the Start of Writing in Marathi Top

Yet another exploration began after the safe and secure days of general hospital days were over. I started private practice and soon realised that the field of mental health was not accepted well in the community in the early and mid-eighties. People still looked suspiciously at me and checked whether I was normal, i.e. sane, or 'otherwise'.

Once a senior editor of a renowned Marathi daily stunned me with a simple comment and a question, 'Why are you complaining about these misconceptions and preconceived notions about mental health and psychiatry? Why don't you do something about it? Stop cribbing! Isn't it up to you to do something about it? Isn't it your sacred duty to educate people about the reality of mental illnesses? Why don't you explore and write about these issues? We shall provide space in our dailies and weeklies. Why don't you write about case studies from your experience, which would provide information about various aspects of mental health? But you must write in Marathi. Let it be in the common man's language. Write in simple words so that someone far removed from the metropolis will understand the complexities of mental health and illnesses.'

And with that the exploration began. This was >25 years back, and I am still exploring avenues to bring home the point with >20 books in Marathi and several columns in weeklies and dailies. As also a TV Show to respond to people's queries on mental health. That's the passion.

   Human Resource Development Top

Yet another stunning moment awaited me. Someone from the corporate world of human resource department asked me, 'Since you write about mental health, why don't you talk to people about mental health. We need someone to tell people about mental health and stress. Would you like to do that? Why don't you explore that possibility?'

'But, I don't know much about training!' I said.

'Why don't you spend some time at IIM Bangalore? They offer "train the trainer" courses. See if you want to explore that.'

And I did. Since then, I have been in the field of training for leadership, team building, critical conversation and heal your life.

'Why don't you go to Japan to study their methods of training in human resource development (HRD)?' A senior HRD trainer asked me. 'It's worth exploring! Why don't you train students in this field?'

And I did.

   Emotional Intelligence to Engineers, Exploring Myself and Behavioural Economics Top

Yet another avenue of exploration awaited me: an opportunity to teach in a school of technology management of IIT Bombay. 'Why don't you teach the skills of emotional intelligence to engineering students', asked the director of the IIT Bombay. And I did explore that. Later, another premier school of management asked me to establish a department of emotional intelligence. That was fun.

And now, when I look back it has been a merry go round of experience going beyond psychiatry: I have been actually exploring myself.

And recently someone asked me why don't you explore a new emerging field of yet another branch called behavioural economics? And I am eager.

   Conclusions Top

I do not want to conclude and want to go on to self-actualise further. But for the sake of this paper, let me conclude by saying that it is critical to own up to dilemmas because that alone can lead to realisations. Mentoring at a critical stage converts realisation into resolution. It is critical also to own up to decisions and seek to proactively change situations. Furthermore, one must be ready to explore new avenues to self-actualise. I did this by continuing to do, but moving beyond, private practice in psychiatry by writing articles in popular newspapers, venturing into training and development of young MBA aspirants while training myself to be an international coach and facilitator, and now looking at the science of behavioural economics, which beckons me [Figure 1]: Flowchart of the paper].
Figure 1: Flow chart of the paper

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   Take Home Message Top

  1. Have the courage to crystallize decisions.
  2. Mentoring leverages resolution of dilemmas.
  3. Curiosity is the key to self-actualisation.
Conflict of interest

None declared.


This is my original unpublished work, not submitted for publication elsewhere.

   Questions that this Paper Raises Top

  1. We, as mental health professionals, have teachers and guides. Why not mentors?
  2. How do we provide human resource training to young mental health professionals?

   Authors Top

Rajendra Barve MD, privately practicing psychiatrist, worked for 4 years as Lecturer at B.Y.L. Nair Hospital and Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai, India. He was also Observer at Tufts University and New England Hospital, Boston. He did a training programme in Behaviour Therapy at Institute of Psychiatry, Kent, London. He is a Consultant visiting psychiatrist to IIT Hospital and IIT, Powai, Mumbai, India. He is Founder of Growel Center for Soft Skills development for leadership at Welingkar Institute of Management Studies (WE School), Mumbai, India. He is also Co-founder of curriculum for soft skills at Shailesh Mehta School of Managment at IIT-Powai. He is an International trainer for Aker Solutions, a Norwegian company for solutions for design and development. He trained at Tokyo for a HRD training programme. He is a Facilitator for Japanese educational tours of the WE School. He also holds a Diploma in Buddhist studies and Vipassana. He has authored 24 books in Marathi on mental health and awareness. Currently, he is in association with Management Institute for Behavioural Economics.


  [Figure 1]


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